Do you ever turn off the television news and wonder, “How did our country become like this?” I do.
So, I attempted to answer my own question. This blog post is the result of my ponderings. What if the majority of our nation’s weakness could be traced to one thing: the breakdown of the family.
Our nation is deciding whether we should endorse same-sex marriage. Baltimore cancelled school, called out the National Guard and established a curfew hoping to keep their city from being destroyed by people the mayor called “thugs.” But, to be fair, the same news broadcast showed neighbor helping neighbor as people cleaned up after the Texas tornadoes. These are complex days in our nation’s history. How did our country become like this? I have an answer I would like you to consider.
I think God gave us the Bible to provide the direction we need for our earthly lives as well as for eternity. I was pondering the mess of things I saw in the news and eventually landed on this thought. God wanted “family” to be the foundation for our lives – and we left his plan behind.
Adam and Eve were to become a family. When God sent the flood, Noah’s family was saved. When Abraham was told to “go” he took his family. God blessed him by making him the “father” of many nations. Joseph forgave his family and cared for them in Egypt. When Joshua and the Israelites had conquered the Promised Land, he divided the land up by assigning property to each family. Kings were supposed produce strong heirs to the throne. The Messiah was to come from a certain bloodline. And Jesus called his followers “brothers.”
The importance of family is one of the key themes of Scripture. God created the concept of family as a foundation for our earthly lives. Scripture tells us that heaven will be like one family. 2 Corinthians 6:18 reads, “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” Could it be that family values are the basis for any strong civilization?
An article from December 2014 reported: Less than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently-released American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data.
That same article gave this profound statistic: Americans are delaying marriage, and more may be foregoing the institution altogether. At the same time, the share of children born outside of marriage now stands at 41%, up from just 5% in 1960.
Maybe we have our answer to the problem. Now, what is the solution? Is there anything we can do? I think the first thing Christians need to realize is that no solution will be quick. The decline was over several decades and the solution will take at least that long. How do we reverse a trend? That has an easy answer: repent. Repent means to turn around and go the opposite direction.
John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). The prophet was telling the people that they would need to live completely changed lives when the Messiah/King arrived. The early Christians did just that. Almost everything about their lives changed when they accepted Jesus as Lord.
I think the strongest Christian witness might be found in the strength of our family. That said, how would you evaluate your witness? What can Christians do to strengthen their families? If Christian families produce the best citizens, the world will begin to notice. Could that be the root of our problem? Consider this statistic from the Barna Research Center: “Born again Christians who are not evangelical were indistinguishable from the national average on the matter of divorce: 33% have been married and divorced.” In other words, Christians who don’t have an evangelical, Spirit-filled faith produce similar family statistics to non-Christians.
I think the sexual revolution of the sixties lit a fuse under the American family and a great deal of what we see on the evening news is evidence of the explosion. That same fuse has been lit in our churches as well. The sexual revolution changed our culture and changed the Church. And that fuse is still lit. Christians can’t change the world until we change ourselves.
What do you need to repent of today? How will your family change as a result? Your response to those questions could change our nation in the decades to come. It will definitely change your family right now.